In order to advance the scientific method and the principles of empiricism, scientists fed a 16-inch cheese pizza to 10,000 maggots.
The feeding frenzy—the maggots scarfed down the whole pie in two hours—was documented in a time-lapse video, and described in a study published Wednesday in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Researchers led by Olga Shishkov, a mechanical engineering PhD student at Georgia Tech, devised the experiment to examine the amazing eating powers of black soldier fly larvae.
Black soldier flies have a lot of potential as biological composters and waste recyclers because of their eating skills, and the species is not a pest or a vector for disease.
These baby flies are the Joey Chestnuts of the maggot world. They can eat twice their body weight in one day and they gorge at an accelerated rate compared to their larval competitors.
It turns out the maggots create a “fountain of larvae” on the pizza, in the words of the authors.
“Larvae crawl towards the food from below, feed, and then are expelled on the top layer,” Shishkov’s team said. “This self-propagating flow pushes away potential roadblocks, thereby increasing eating rate.”
This isn’t the first time Shishkov and her colleagues have filmed black soldier fly larvae pigging out. In 2018 for Valentine’s Day, the team fed a heart-shaped donut with a happy face to 5,000 maggots.
Watch Gizmodo’s footage of the pastry’s eerie disintegration, but be prepared to stare into the eyes of the donut long after they have been removed from its face to be passed among the ravenous larvae.
These maggots also make a great protein source for livestock feed—and are edible to humans too. In fact, industrial designer Katarina Unger invented an incubator farm that raises the larvae for food.
"When you cook them, they smell a bit like cooked potatoes,” Unger told the architectural and design magazine Dezeen. “The consistency is a bit harder on the outside and like soft meat on the inside. The taste is nutty and a bit meaty.”
Perhaps “pizza-loving maggots” will morph into “maggot-lovers pizza” in the near future.
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